TED & Mortality
The TREE Foundations conservation programs overarching goal is to reduce sea turtle mortality caused by both poaching and fisheries by-catch.
“Three species of turtles have been recorded foraging offshore with Olive Ridleys both breeding and nesting along the east coast of India. TREE Foundation conducts important awareness programs and has ensured community participation in turtle conservation. The Foundation works to instill a sense of stewardship among all stakeholders in order to effect policy in all the conservation areas. During all programs, regional threats to turtles are highlighted and clearly illustrated. To reduce mortality of turtles as by-catch in fisheries through gear management it is critical for policy makers, enforcement agencies and community to become both aware and involved.”
Turtle Excluder Device (TED)
As many trawl fishers do not currently use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in India, applying the same community engagement techniques to address the mechanized fishers would prove effective: specifically,
TREE Foundation is actively working with all stakeholders towards the implementation of TEDs in the region. Mechanized fishers have been directly involved in designing a TED specific to the region and their particular way of fishing in conjunction with TREE and the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology.
Use of Turtle Excluder Device & Mortality Reduction
In February and March 2014 there were two widely reported mass strandings of Olive Ridley turtles, one in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh and the second around the Vellar estuary in Tamil Nadu. The combined mortality of those two strandings was estimated at over 2,000 not including any other turtles that may not have washed ashore.
TREE Foundation has been conducting awareness and interactive programs at the trawl fishing harbour since 2006 with the various trawl mechanized boat-owners and workers associations. A three-day event, held in January of 2015 aimed at convincing trawl-boat owners and workers operating from Kasimedu fishing harbour, Chennai, of the benefits of using a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) during the turtle breeding and nesting season between December and March inclusive.
The demonstration and trials were organized by TREE Foundation in conjunction with the Fisheries Department and Central Institute for Fisheries Technology (CIFT) and had the support of the Forest Department, Indian Coast Guard and the Coastal Security Group.
Having seen both the simplicity and effectiveness of a modified version of the CIFT-TED, fabricated locally under TREE Foundations supervision, during ten additional independent sea trials, trawl operators came round to the idea of implementing TEDs on their boats.
The trials made it quite clear to the ‘Chennai Chengai Singaravelar Trawl Boat Owners Welfare Association’ that the benefits of using a TED far outweighed the initial cost that would have to be borne by the operators.
Ten TEDs were donated to the Association by the Foundation in 2016.